Margaret Elizabeth “Beth” Lewis Williams, 70

WILMINGTON — Margaret Elizabeth “Beth” Lewis Williams died peacefully, Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

Beth was born on January 18, 1951 in Raleigh, North Carolina to the late Calvin Everette Lewis and Margaret Elizabeth Foy Lewis. In 1952, the family moved back “home” to Rocky Point in Pender County shortly after. As the eldest, Beth was an incredible role model and listener to her three siblings. As a hard farmworker she proved to be the fastest blueberry packer in the family.

Beth received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from UNC-Chapel Hill and married William Leaford Williams III on August 18, 1973. English literature was Beth’s passion and she taught in Alamance, Forsyth and New Hanover County school systems as she followed and supported her husband’s career.

Beth’s greatest love was her family. Beth and Lee spent 13 years in Winston-Salem, where they started raising their two children. She was an active and devoted member to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Winston-Salem Junior League and her garden club.

In 1987, Beth and Lee moved to Wilmington bringing her closer to her home and family in Rocky Point. Beth took great pride in her family’s farming business, Lewis Nursery and Farms, started by her late father. Beth was an integral part in helping her brother and sister in-law manage the Lewis Farms retail location on Gordon Road, including founding the plant nursery and locally famous strawberry ice cream shop. She had a true passion for gardening and horticulture, which always led to beautiful flower arrangements, containers and an exquisite yard that was Beth’s therapy and a beautiful retreat for entertaining friends and family.

Beth was also an active volunteer and substitute teacher in the New Hanover County Public School system. St. James Parish was incredibly important to her and she served in many facets of the church. She also served on the Board for the New Hanover County Arboretum.

Beth was known by her close friends and family as a gracious entertainer. Her style, beautiful taste and treasured recipes always made for wonderful dinner parties and gatherings that she and Lee loved to host together as a team.

Beth was a project person. Her industrious spirit shined through in every part of her life. From pride in her family history, raising children, devotion to her husband of 48 years, to her love and compassion for her friends, Beth’s life impacted so many others. Her close friends knew Beth could accomplish more than most on the average day. Beth woke up with a plan and mission, then got it done. She kept her mind sharp with the daily crossword (always finishing it), bridge and avid reading. Friends would tell you Beth had an incredible vocabulary. Her grandchildren’s best memories of their Bebe were their afternoons spent in the sun and ocean at Wrightsville Beach.

Even as her mental health declined with the progression of dementia, Beth never slowed down physically. Thanks to a wonderful care team, Beth was always up early, beautifully dressed and ready for the day. She appreciated and knew the importance of exercise. When she couldn’t play tennis or golf anymore, she never let up on her daily walking. Thanks to her dear friends, her husband and her care team, she continued those daily walks until the day before she passed. 

Beth is survived by her devoted husband Lee, daughter Elizabeth (Betsy) Williams McDonald and Angus McDonald, son William Leaford (Ford) Williams IV (Anne), brother Calvin Everette Lewis Jr (Jackie), sisters Ellen Lewis Ramsey (Wharton) and Laurie Lewis Barnhart (Jeff), brother-in-law Dr. Randall Watts Williams (Elizabeth) and several nieces and nephews. Known as “Bebe,” she was especially adored by her 5 grandchildren, Catherine Ellen (Catchie) McDonald, Margaret Elizabeth (Mae) McDonald, Lewis Sprunt (Lew) Williams, Harrison Leaford Williams and Sallie Labouisse Williams.

Special thanks to Beth’s care team who have carried our family through the past 3 years with patience, grace and infinite love.

The family will receive friends at the Williams home, 2114 South Canterbury Rd. on Sunday, October 24th from 4:00-6:00 pm.

The funeral service will be held on Monday, October 25th at 1:00 pm at St. James Episcopal Church, Wilmington, NC, reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Beth’s memory to St. James Episcopal Church at 25 S 3rd Street, Wilmington, NC 28401 or to a charity of your choice.

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